I don’t know about other places, but in Romania there is a tendency to look back at the past and say ‘It was so much better then’. ‘Then’ being before the revolution of 1989 when the communist party ruled Romania. I feel that this is a reaction that comes from the unhappiness with today’s situation combined with confusion and a constant sense of hopelessness. The way that our country is working today is far from perfect, but I still feel fortunate when I think of how my parents grew up. People are having a difficult time navigating the complexity of the social and economic landscape that developed along with capitalism after ’89. From here you get the urge to go back, fleeing from the unknown towards the familiar and unsurprising. The former is a greater evil that the latter simply because it is new.
I always feel a lot of anger when I see young people leaning towards this way of thinking. I can understand older generations being frustrated and unable to adapt to a changing society and economy, as they grew up preparing for a completely different future than what they got. Younger people should know better.
We don’t have the memories of growing up communist, though the older generations still reminisce about those times. I’ve heard so much about life back then that if we were to go back tomorrow, it would not be that much of a culture shock. It would still be a nightmare. The simplicity of life back then is alluring to some. Depending on where and to what parents you were born, you knew where your place was. A job was supposedly guaranteed for you along with food rations and a roof over your head. For all of this people relinquished their rights to opinions, choice and individuality. Going against social norms or having an original thought was a dangerous aberration.
Why do people forget this price so easily?
Right now there might be too many differing opinions going around. The media is’t helping. Most TV channels are owned by politicians or people affiliated with them. Outside of the obvious media manipulation that is not so obvious to those following more than one news outlet (I follow none because I tried and it makes me want to yell) we also have the global epidemic of western media-propelled ideals of what a happy and successful life should look like. Each instagram picture you see, each movie you watch, facebook posts, tags, makeup tutorials, volgs, celebrity interviews and such, are all designed to illustrate what your life should look like. As much as you try, life never seems to match that narrow sum of specific traits it should.
We’ve been told that we can do anything, be anything, that our opinions matter and our feelings matter, but everything happening outside of our personal conviction that this is reality, doesn’t match that truth. This is how frustrations are born along with anger and the aforementioned hopelessness. The ones who have the strength push back in whatever way fits them better. Some care more only about being right and validating their own feelings, some are trying to have a discussion or do something and some are too confused to even try anything because everything seems either wrong or futile.
I am part of the last category. I know that going back is not the answer. This is all I’ve come up with. Helpful, right? It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything you need to know to make an informed decision and there doesn’t seem to be a beginning to all of it. In school we learned history only up to a point- that is when the communist party fell, as if that is all we needed to know. There was no discussion in any of my classes about the political climate today. They left out the conclusion to what they were teaching. That and almost everything else that is relevant to what a good education should entail, like civic education, emotional awareness, soft skills and hard skills. Fresh out of high-school I received a voter’s card that I was more fit to use in 1848 than today (provided that I was allowed to do so, which isn’t the case, but that’s beside my point).
Informed partially, insufficiency or wrongly, we make our choices while trying to raise our voices so someone can hear them. Even those spending countless nights in the streets seem to be shouting in a void. If it feels like America is divided in two camps, I can only say that seems to be a mirror for the rest of the world, or at least Europe. Division is what we’re engaging in, instead of actively building our own futures. We’re kept distracted with social media and online petitions while behind closed doors decisions are made that will impact us and generations to come.
Information available on the internet from various sources can be a force to be reckoned with. This coupled with Orwell’s idea that hope… lies in the proles, meaning the sheer number of dissatisfied people, might equal change if enough of the population is willing to make the effort. They say that each people has the leaders that it deserves, but change in society logically spreads from leadership and rarely towards it. Can we expect things to get better as long as the people making the choices are the same ones that brought us in this situation or have been molded by them in their own image?
Comfort and safety are at an all time high for humans right now. We’re enjoying a sweet ride, but what will be the consequences that future generations will have to pay for our indifference and submission?